No Repose for the Weary: Developers Must Deal With Untimely Appeals of Site Plan Approval

by:    Katherine A. Muscalino

A recent decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court gives developers something new to worry about — appeal of their land use approvals even after the expiration of the 45 day prerogative writ window.  The decision, which appears to deny developers the very repose that this limitation was intended to provide, means that developers remain exposed to lawsuits even after the statutory period lapses.

In Hopewell Valley Citizens’ Group Inc. v. Berwind Property Group Development Co., an applicant obtained preliminary site plan approval for a General Development Plan on May 29, 2008, over the objections of members of the public.  The approval was memorialized on September 25, 2008 and the defendant published notice of the resolution’s approval on September 27, 2008.  On October 1, 2008, the defendant informed the municipality’s Board Secretary/Administrative Officer of its publication of the approval.

Despite this notice, the Board Secretary/Administrative Officer published additional notice of the resolution on October 2, 2008.  Thereafter, an objector contacted the Board Secretary/Administrative Officer and inquired as to the date of the approval’s publication.  The Board Secretary/Administrative Officer replied that the approval had been published October 2.  The objector then used the October 2 date to calculate the 45 day period in which a prerogative writ action could be filed, and filed suit on November 17, 2008.  The suit was thus filed six days after the 45 day period expired from the original publication of the approval, but within 45 days of the second publication.

 

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